“Hello, this is Sharon your local Google specialist . . .” Not Again!
If you’re like most business owners you get (or your office gets) tons of solicitation phone calls. None are quite so annoying to me as the recorded calls from “Sharon, your local Google specialist” who promises that she can put me on page one of Google. You’ve probably received enough of those phone calls that you can actually still hear her voice when I mention her name.
Don’t Fall Into the Trap!
Unfortunately, some unsuspecting and trusting business owners fall into the trap. Their services are not terribly expensive (around $200 per month) so it may seem like a reasonable deal especially if you’re thinking that they can actually deliver on their guarantee to put you on the first page of Google. But you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You’ll get more results by stapling your business card to 200 one-dollar bills and dropping them into the street from the nearest tall building.
Here’s How it Works (thanks to Michael Johnston)
Here is a detailed explanation from a colleague, Michael Johnston. He actually took the time to go through their entire sales pitch, and like many of us in this business he knows what it takes to REALLY deliver on that promise. Michael’s comments follow:
I am a curious person by nature and I guess that is what makes me always want to do research. Today I got another call from my “This is ‘X’ checking on your Google listings. We will guarantee you front page placement on Google search” friends. So I took the time to be pre-qualified for their opportunity and then listened to the pitch from their account manager. Hey, they called ME so any intelligence gathering I do in that situation is perfectly fine in my book…
I was curious about how they could make that claim in an even remotely realistic way so I figured I would see what they offered. After all, there are so many variables that go into how Google determines the best answer for every search query that to guarantee search engine rank position is impossible. So right off the bat they were making seemingly impossible claims but until I understood what it was they were offering I couldn’t be sure.
In addition I wanted to see how they intended to make good on their claims. After all, I do essentially the same thing for a living but with a difference. I know what it really takes to get on the first page of Google and how much work and time is involved. Some consider me something of an expert on the topic.
Can they REALLY Guarantee First Page Ranking? In a Word . . . NO!
I also wanted to see if there was any validity at all in their claims so I could make sure it was not just another simply fraudulent scheme to bilk unwary business owners out of some money. If it was indeed something that they might be able to pull off then I wanted to know how they proposed to do it and how much it was going to cost.
“Register” Keywords With Google? No Such Thing!
They told me they would “register 10 keywords with Google for me so that I was guaranteed front page placement every time someone did a search for my type of business”. That was interesting because I know of no process whereby you can register/claim keywords with Google or any other search engine. If they are professionals they should know better than to say it that way.
I asked him if he meant they would use advertising to promote my business. Adwords (Google advertising) does let you run ads by bidding on specific keywords that are related to your ads. If you bid high enough to beat all of the other people competing for that keyword and your ad quality score is high enough then yes, technically you can buy a spot in the advertising section of Google search results. But again, there are a lot of variables and I would never tell a business I could guarantee them top search placement because of that.
He said, no it wasn’t advertising, it was purely organic results. He said there were 1,900 searches per month in my area for my type of business and that his company only works with one company of each type within a radius that would be the equivalent of about an hours drive from my location and if I wanted to make sure that I was that special company I would have to act quickly.
Some Half-Truths and Some Lies
The funny part was that he obviously had no idea what type of business I was in. Plus I know that there are not 1,900 searches for top keywords related to by business within an hour’s drive of my location. That is easy information for anyone to get using the free Google Keyword Planning Tool (recently moved inside the Adwords platform) or Google Trends. If you have a lot of videos you can also use the YouTube Keyword Tool.
Finally, he said there are many directories on the web that can rank your business well in search results. Now I understood what the real product was they were selling.
What They’re Actually Selling is Directory Listings. Anyone Can Get Those for Free!
What it comes down to is they charge a $99 setup fee and then $159 per month to simply create local web directory listings for you. They said you don’t even need a website so I asked how they could do that and they said it is all based on your Google+ (Places) page (I knew that but was just checking).
Ah-HA! That is certainly simple enough but depending on the competition it doesn’t guarantee you the front page of Google search results locally and definitely not on a regional or national level. Web directories are however a great resource for businesses. There are literally hundreds of them out there and nearly all of them will give you a listing for free.
Because most directories have well established sites they rank well in search results so your listing on those directories have a good likelihood of appearing on the first page of search results. Of course this likelihood is modified by many factors such as how many competitors are in your area, how well you have worded your listing title and description (a subject for another article) and how many of them are also using the same directories as you are. They are free to everyone after all.
If You Want to Pay More, You Can Get Some Really Bad SEO!
Then the account manager that I was talking to from the telemarketing company said there were many other ways they could create content using my G+ URL that would boost my ranking in search results.
Like SEO or something (I asked innocently)? Do you write blog posts or something?
He said they did that and more and for only another $99 setup fee I could get their premium package and get listed on Bing Places For Business, Yahoo Local and social networks too. Another $99 for 15 minutes of work?
So that is the pitch they made and the service they offer. Vaguely inferring that they work for or are Google was their first deceptive tactic. That was followed by big claims with little information for the consumer and what they do give is pretty skewed and grossly inflated and partially a flat out lie. It might sound great to those who do not know any better but that is all it is, a cheap way to hustle the “Yokels”.
A Better and More Reliable Alternative
There are much better alternatives available to you from companies who will take the time to do things right and let you know exactly how they are spending your money and the results of their efforts.
Optimizing and promoting your web presence is a complex job. Doing it right involves far more than just creating local directory listings. A well crafted digital marketing plan should be just that, a plan. It should include optimizing your website, blog posts, images, videos and even your social networks to Google “best practices”. It should also include a plan for the creation and distribution of content that is related to your business on a regular basis. It will very likely also include some advertising to promote your business to your ideal market demographic.
I’ve edited this for length and some content (I added some headlines). You can read his entire article here: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140425222949-347294–we-guarrantee-you-front-page-of-google-search-really-not-so-much
The bottom line here can be summed up in a centuries old truth: If it sounds to good to be true, it is too good to be true. Don’t fall for it. You’ll be much better off talking to a local professional. Of course it will be more expensive, but you’ll actually get some results! Isn’t that what you’re paying for in the first place? I thought so.